‘Twitterverse’ Talks CBOE Outage

Terry Flanagan

Thursday’s half-day outage on Chicago Board Options Exchange drew commentary, speculation and even some humor on twitter from options traders and market observers.

In a release issued late Thursday, Chicago-based CBOE said “the malfunction that impacted CBOE was an internal systems issue and not the result of any outside influence. The issue, which affected validation of certain orders and the communication of cancel/fill reports, has been corrected.”

The outage was the latest in a series of technological glitches that have plagued financial markets in recent years, ranging in severity from a brief problem affecting just a few securities, to the May 2010 ‘Flash Crash’ in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average temporarily plunged and some trades of individual stocks executed at a penny.

The recurring nature of the market glitches had twitter abuzz. Interest was also higher than it might have been for another exchange due to CBOE’s exclusivity with certain popular products such as the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX.

#CBOE open again, but after the bogus #AP tweet flash crash this week, not great for confidence in the markets,” Bob Fasbender tweeted.

Similarly, Streettalk Advisors tweeted “software glitch at #CBOE makes you wonder how reliable and credible things are…”, while Brian Spaeth offered “more proof markets are broken.”

In the 140 characters of Joe Tigay, “#CBOE spread trading appears to be the root of the problem. Very likely to be a software glitch rather than anything else.”

Some tweeters were more angry than analytical. Pete Davis said “can we go a day without a market somewhere… breaking? #CBOE.” A tweeter with the handle MuchPropsGiven suggested CBOE’s motto should be “providing liquidity when we damn well please.”

Speaking on CNBC on Friday morning, CBOE Chief Executive Bill Brodsky said market operators need to work diligently to minimize the incidence and severity of technical problems, but given the speed and complexity of today’s markets, there are vulnerabilities.

“I don’t know of a company that doesn’t have a technological problem here or there,” Brodsky said. “We haven’t had a serious tech issue in over 12 years.”

CBOE said the issue was internal, but tweeters weren’t convinced. The Real Lennan said “I wonder if CBOE was hacked…”, while barone pondered “Was #CBOE outage yest really software glitch or was it another hacker attack? Govt will never tell us, but get’n a little fishy.”

Sualeh Hafeez offered “How many more vital technological failures will occur b4 the government puts more urgency in protecting our nation’s infrastructure? #CBOE.”

Another theory behind what happened was offered by sellputs: “someone probably tripped on a ethernet cable and spilling a cafe on a exposed netgear router #CBOE.”

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